Staff profiles

Photo of Professor Gabriella Giannachi

Professor Gabriella Giannachi

Professor in Performance and New Media


01392 722423

Room 209

Gabriella Giannachi, FRSA, MAE, is Professor in Performance and New Media, and Director of the Centre for Intermedia and Creative Technologies at the University of Exeter, which promotes advanced interdisciplinary research in creative technologies by facilitating collaborations between academics from a range of disciplines with cultural and creative organisations.

Her publications include: On Directing, ed. with Mary Luckhirst (Methuen 1999); Staging the Post-avantgarde, co-authored with Nick Kaye (Peter Lang 2002); Virtual Theatres: an Introduction (Routledge 2004); Performing Nature: Explorations in Ecology and the Arts, ed. with Nigel Stewart (Peter Lang 2005); The Politics of New Media Theatre (Routledge 2007); Performing Presence: Between the Live and the Simulated, co-authored with Nick Kaye (MUP 2011), nominated in Theatre Library Association 44th Annual Book Awards (2012); Performing Mixed Reality, co-authored with Steve Benford (MIT Press 2011); Archaeologies of Presence, co-edited with Nick Kaye and Michael Shanks (Routledge 2012); Archive Everything: Mapping the Everyday (MIT Press 2016) and Histories of Performance Documentation: Museum, Artistic and Scholarly Practices, co-edited with Jonah Westerman (Routledge 2017). She is currently working on a monograph researching technologies for self-portraiture for Routeldge.  

She has published articles in Contemporary Theatre Review; Leonardo; Performance Research; Digital Creativity and PAJ, and co-co-authored conference papers for ISEA 2010; IVA 2009, 9th International Conference on Intelligent Virtual Agents; CHI 2008; CHI 2009 (best paper award), CHI 2012 (best paper award); CHI 2013 (best paper award); CHI 2015; Museums and the Web. She is currently researching a monograph about the use of technology in self-portraiture (forthcomig Routhledge). 

Over the last five years, she has been researching projects in partnerships with: Tate, Royal Albert Memorial Museum and Art Gallery, Exeter City FC Supporters Trust, Imperial War Museum, British Library, Stanford Libraries, LIMA, San Francisco Art Institute, Ludwig Boltzman Institute Media.Art.Research and Met Office Hadley Centre.

Gabriella Giannachi has a BA in Modern Languages and Literatures, in the Faculty of Letters and Philosophy from Turin University, and a PhD in English from Cambridge University, where she was awarded a scholarship by her College, Trinity Hall, to research the role of silence in modern European Drama.

In recognition of her research, she became a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts in 2012 and an elected member of the Academia Europaea in 2014.


Research interests

Gabriella Giannachi is Director of the Centre for Intermedia and Creative Technologies and her current research interests are: art and technology; mobile interpretation and user-generated documentation of art and sport events; the creation, exhibition, and sharing of archival resources within an exhibition context; mixed, augmented and virtual reality; presence research; museum studies and digital curation; new media and digital curation; oral history and digital heritage; creative technologies. She welcomes research students in all these areas.

Research collaborations

Principal investigator of The Grecian Archive and the HLF-funded The History of St James Park project (2016-17) and The City Museum (2017-19) developed in partnership with Exeter City Football Club and Exeter City Footbal Club Supporters Trust.

Principal Investigator for Collecting, Archiving and Sharing Performance and the Performative, with Dr Jennifer Mundy (Tate Research), Mr John Stack (Tate Online) and Catherine Wood (Curator for Performance at Tate), funded by AHRC (2014-16).

Co-investigator for Performance and Audience in Movement-Based Digital Games: An International Research Network, PI Patrick Dickinson (ComputerScience, University of Lincoln), funded by AHRC (2014-15).

Principal investigator for Exeter in the RCUK funded Horizon Digital Economy Research, Universities of Nottingham, Cambridge, Brunel and Reading (2009-15 and 2015-2020):

  • Principal investigator, togethwer with Steve Benford, Tony Glover and Martin Flintham) of the pilot for The Cartography project developed in partnership with Rebecca Sinker, Helena Hunter, Emily Pringle, Acacia Finbow, Valentina Ravaglia at Tate (2016-17).
  • Principal investigator, together with Derek McAuley (Director at Horizon Digital Economy Research Institute and Chief Innovation Officer at Connected Digital Economy Catapult), for Art Maps, an interdisciplinary collaborative project between three departments at Tate (Tate Learning, Tate Online and Tate Research) and researchers in Computer Science at the University of Nottingham (2012-13). Art Maps consists of a web and mobile app that allow users to explore artworks in the Tate collection in relation to the places, sites, landscapes and environments that informed or led to their geotagging. The research process is documented on the project blog, and there are videos or the first and second public engagement events held at Tate. Art Maps was shown at Tate Britain from February to June 2013.
  • Co-Investigator for Relate, a collaboration between Active Ingredient, Dr Carlo Buontempo from the Met Office Hadley Centre, Brazilian curator Silvia Leal, staff in Computer Science and Psychology from University of Nottingham, and a number of communities in Brazil and the UK (2012). Relate developed sensor kits and an online sharing platform supporting remote communities in reflecting about the relationship between energy and climate change. The platform facilitates mass participation in citizen science activities, allowing for communities to collect, share, relate and interpret data gathered through environmental sensors and energy monitors.  Activities supported include building data maps, constructing and sharing new interpretations and artistic visualisations of the data, and facilitating discussions and questions about our understanding of energy and climate change between schools, communities, artists and researchers in the humanities and sciences. The research is documented in a blog
  • Principal investigator for CloudPad, a cloud-based documentation and archiving tool for the annotation of mixed media resources. Developed in partnership with British Library, Stanford Libraries, Blast Theory, CloudPad was tested through the annotation of a bespoke documentation of Blast Theory's Rider Spoke (2009) captured in collaboration with the Ludwig Boltzman Institute Media.Art.Research. The research is documented in a blog.

Principal investigator for The Exeter Time Trails, funded by REACT HEIF (2013), developed in collaboration with RAMM, 1010 Media and Exeter City FC Supporters Trust. Exeter Time Trails is a web app prototype that facilitates the exploration of 250,000 years of history through objects in RAMM’s collection and oral histories from partner institutions, such as Exeter City FC Supporters Trust. The research is documented in a blog. Exeter Time Trails subsequently was funded by an open innovation token which led to the development of Placeify

Principal Investigator for Moor Stories: Reimagining the Dartmoor landscapewith Royal Albert Memorial Museum and Art Gallery and 1010 Media, funded by REACT HEIF (2012) and REACT (2013). This project utilised research on user engagement, location and Victorian collections to develop an interactive website entailing an archive of RAMM's collection of objects pertaining to Dartmoor that can be encountered and annotated outside the museum. The research is documented in a blog

Co-investigator for Mapping Performance Art in the Bay Area, a visualisation of performance in the Bay area from the late 1960s to the mid 1980s (2009-13).

Principal Investigator, commissioned by AHRC, Nesta and Arts Council to research Imperial War Museum's SICE project (2012), which explored how social media models can be applied to museum collections, offering new frameworks for engagement and social interpretation. The SICE project was mentioned in the Guardian and the final report is here

Co-investigator for Riders Have Spoken, AHRC, led by J. Foster, Information Studies, Sheffield University (2010-11). This project led to Blast Theory's development of an archive of their work Rider Spoke.

Co-investigator for Performing Presence, developed in collaboration with University College London (Mel Slater, David Swapp, Computer Science) and Stanford University (Michael Shanks, Archaeology and Classics, Metamedia Lab) funded by the AHRC (2004-9). The Presence Project investigated what constitutes presence in live, mediated and simulated environments.

Mentor to Watching the Detectives. Investigations of the Event, its Record and the Aesthetics of Witnessing (2008-11) led by Hugo Glendinning, funded by the AHRC. This project looked at the role of the photographer in generating performance documentation.

Partner to Creator (2008-9) New Research Processes and Business Models for the Creative Industries, EPSRC-funded cluster led by S. Benford (Mixed Reality Lab, Nottingham University).  

Member of EPSRC funded cluster in digital economy Innovative Media for a Digital Economy IMDE (2008-9) led by M. Jirotka (Oxford University).

Partner to CEMP, a creativity network, funded by AHRC, Arts Council England, DTI and ESRC (2006-8).  

Investigator for PRESENCCIA, subcontracted to UPF Barcelona (2006-7), EU funded. Presenccia researched presence in virtual environments.

Principal investigator for ISN | Information Society Network, funded by University of Exeter (2006-9), to explore the potential of interdisciplinary collaboration on the information society.


Research supervision

I supervise students in a number of areas in digital humanities, ecological and environmental performance, contemporary performance and new media.

Research students

Current Students

Lucy McFadzean, 'Video, community, and political support in the cultural policy of the Greater London Council, 1981-83, SWWDTP award

William Barrett, 'Digital Interaction with Heritage at the Royal Albert Memorial Museum and Art Gallery', REACT collaborative doctoral studentship with RAMM

Cristina Locatelli, 'Mobile interpretation in art museums', REACT collaborative doctoral studentship with Tate

Acacia Finbough, 'The value of performance documentation', AHRC funded collaborative doctoral studentship with Tate

Sofia Romualdo, 'Gameful design in museums', colelaborative doctoral studentship with RAMM

Past Students

Sandra Reeve, ‘The Ecological Body’, AHRC, in co-supervision with Professor Phillip Zarrilli (2008)

Stephanie Kuhn, 'Presence in Hyperoperas', AHRC (2010)

Dan Frodsham, 'Utopic Spatial Practice', AHRC (2015)

Yi-Chen Wu, ‘Chi in Multimedia Taiwanese Theatre’, Taiwanese Government scholarship (2016)

Ilaria Pinna, ‘The politics of contemporary Italian theatre' (2016)

Hannah Wood, Creative writing PhD, co-supervision with Sam North (2017)


External impact and engagement

I research performance and new media documentation, a burgeoning field that concerns itself with the capture of rich quality data about an event (whether artistic or other) so it may be preserved for future generations. More precisely, I am an expert at documenting mixed reality events that span physical and digital environments. This has led me to research how documentations and, more generally, the archives that host them, can be used outside the museums as mobile centres for interpretation and knowledge production to facilitate creative engagement with art, heritage, popular and material culture. In particular, I research how mobile interpretation and creative engagement with such archives can generate new knowledge that is of value to users and museums; how encountering archival materials outside museums can bring return visitors as well as new visitors to museums; how the self-documentation of one’s encounter with art can constitute a rewarding free-style mobile learning experience; how it can stimulate memory production and augment individual and communities’ sense of presence and identity; and what copyright and accessibility implications these uses of documentations may entail.  

I have collaborated with Tate on The Cartography project (2016-17), Collecting, Archiving and Sharing Performance and the Performative (2014-16) and Art Maps (2012-15); Royal Albert Memorial Museum and Art Gallery and 1010 Media on Moor Stories (2012-13) and Royal Albert Memorial Museum and Art Gallery, 1010 Media and Exeter City Football Club Supporters Trust on Exeter Time Trails (2013); Exeter City Football Club and Exeter City Football Club Supporters Trust on The Grecian Srchive (2015-), The History of St James Park (2016-17) and Grecian Voices (2013-14) and 1010 Media on Placeify (2014) anf The City Museum (2017-19).

These projects have involved workshops with primary school children at St Leonard's Primary School, St Sidwells's Primary School and St David's Primary School in Exeter and the Pimlico Academy in London. They have involved the public in London and Liverpool (through a number of public engagement events organised by Tate and the use of ArtMaps for exhibitions Looking at the View Exhibition; Ruin Lust; and Late Turner at Tate Britain). Project dissemination has targeted the public through blogs and museums through a keynotes offered at in Lisbon (2013), Maastricht (2016) attended by the EU's principal contemporary art museums and workshops such as those run for Placeify at over 10 museums in the South West of England.


I draw from my research in all my teaching and the principal areas in which I teach are performance and new media; documentation and archiving; museum studies and curation. I teach through a problem-solving, hands on approach and, when possible, try to collaborate with external institutions, such as Tate and Royal Albert Memorial Museum and Art Gallery. A good example of this was the Digital Futures Grand Challenge I led in 2014 and 2015, involving partnerships with RAMM, Tate, Bill Douglas Cinema Museum and Exeter City Football Club Supporters Trust and the Creative Industries module I led in 2016 which involves visits at the Bill Douglas Cinema Museum, the Penguin Archive, RAMM and the Northcott Theatre.  

You can sign up for my office hours online and come to see me in room 209


Modules taught